In an interview with SP’s Naval Forces, Ravi Nirgudkar, Managing Director India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka - BAE Systems, outlines the company’s support to Indian government’s ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ and ‘Make in India’ policies
SP’s Naval Forces (SP’s): What is BAE Systems’ plan in realising Prime Minister Modi’s vision of Atmanirbhar Bharat (Self Reliant India)?
Ravi Nirgudkar (Nirgudkar): India is a key strategic market for BAE Systems and we are committed to grow our footprint and our partnerships, both manufacturing and technology-based, across our capabilities in Air, Land, Sea, Cyber and Advanced Electronics. We are fully supportive of the Government’s vision for Atmanirbhar Bharat and ‘Make in India’.
In line with the Government’s focus, our partnership with India has evolved significantly during the past ten years and this is reflected in our mission of Co-Creating for a Self-Reliant India.
It is our goal to be the trusted partner of choice of Indian Armed Forces. In essence, this means helping ensure the Indian government is in the best possible position to protect its people and national security, along with its critical infrastructure and vital information.
We’re supporting Atmanirbhar Bharat by proudly partnering with indigenous industry and leveraging BAE Systems’ high quality, innovative, cutting-edge niche technology.
“It is our goal to be the trusted partner of choice of Indian Armed Forces”
SP’s: Explain BAE Systems past experience in co-developing and co-producing with Indian partners.
Nirgudkar: The Indian defence industry is going through a stirring phase and this undoubtedly holds immense potential for industrial partnerships for companies such as ours.
BAE Systems is proud to be a founding partner of defence manufacturing in India. In particular, we take pride in supporting the Indian Army’s Artillery Regiment with the M777 Ultra-Lightweight 155mm Howitzer, providing superior artillery capability and an operational advantage - backed up by local assembly, integration and testing.
The co-production of the guns is one that involves high levels of collaboration, particularly during the Covid-19 pandemic. Our partnership with Mahindra for the production of the M777 ULH is well known in the defence industry and one that we are very proud to have.
“Our partnership with Mahindra for the production of the M777 ULH is one that we are very proud to have”
We rely on our partnerships with the Indian industrial base to co-produce and co-develop Made-in-India products for India and other markets. Hindustan Aeronautics Limited’s (HAL) production line in India where the Hawk aircraft are assembled is a demonstration of the success of ‘Make in India’ in defence manufacturing.
Besides the Hawk advanced jet trainer programme, wehave supported the Indian Air Force by in-country manufacturing of multiple aircraft like the Vampire, 120 Jaguar, HS-748 Avro amongst others.
SP’s: Tell us about BAE Systems’ indigenisation plan for Mk 45 Naval Guns in India that will enable cost and schedule efficiencies?
Nirgudkar: BAE Systems, in partnership with the United States Navy, has proposed a programme to support the Indian Navy in its quest for modernisation through the introduction of the Mk45 5-inch 127mm naval gun, the large calibre naval gun of choice for our allied navies.
BAE Systems, as one of the entities included in the congressional notification of the FMS program for naval gun systems, stands ready to meet India’s defence requirements. This programme and its corresponding value would cover a comprehensive procurement of systems and services to include 13 Mk 45 guns, ammunition hoists, lifts and racks, spares, power converters, and long-term extensive support lasting up to 25 years.
“We are dedicated to supporting a self-reliant India and its ‘Make in India’ initiative”
These services would consist of integration, installation, warranty, training, engineering support, and waterfront facilities. The program would provide naval guns for two warship classes (15B and 17A) and include new infrastructure on the country’s east and west coasts to provide training, parts and lifecycle maintenance with special tools and equipment.
India has committed to 11 warships being built by GRSE and MDL and these are slated to have Mk45 gun systems. We look forward to supporting the U.S. and Indian governments in this effort.
SP’s: What are the salient features of Mk 45 Naval Guns that will successfully support Indian Navy’s Mission?
Nirgudkar: The 5-inch (127mm) 62-caliber Mk 45 Mod 4 Naval Gun System from BAE Systems is in U.S. Navy service worldwide and is ready to significantly enhance Naval Surface Fire Support (NSFS) and other critical mission areas with the introduction of hypervelocity and precision guided munitions. Originally designed for the land attack mission, Mk 45 Mod 4 major upgrades include a 62-caliber barrel, strengthened gun and mount subsystems, advanced control system enhancement, and a reduced signature, low maintenance gun shield.
“India has committed to 11 warships being built by GRSE and MDL and these are slated to have Mk 45 gun systems”
We are dedicated to supporting a self-reliant India and its ‘Make in India’ initiative. This programme will offer India the opportunity to benefit from our prior successes in transferring the relevant gun manufacturing technology, knowledge, and skills, to ensure the Indian Navy has the required in-country capacity to meet its naval needs for decades to come.
SP’s: How is the Mk45 Naval Gun utilised by the US and its allies?
Nirgudkar: BAE Systems provides more than 30 years of experience with Mk 45, with more than 240 shipboard applications in the U.S. Navy and eleven fleets worldwide. Full life-cycle support is keyed to the customer and can be supplemented by the worldwide logistics system supporting the U.S. Navy.